The shootings in Connecticut this weekend have impacted the entire nation, indeed, the entire world. Every parent feels acutely the loss of so many young, innocent lives. I am no different. I have been a bundle of emotion, from overwhelming grief, anger, disgust, disbelief, and back to grief again. Sometimes, all of it, all at once.
But as the news reports continued throughout the weekend, there arose a different issue, one that I never saw coming. And perhaps, I should have. There are rumors which were fueled by news reports that the shooter had mental illness and Asperger's Syndrome. The problem being that, well, the world was ready to accept that Asperger's is a mental illness, a valid reason behind this tragedy of immeasurable proportions, this unspeakable, overwhelming crime against children and teachers. That Asperger's could justifiably explain this kind of violence. This is patently untrue.
Because so many people know little to nothing about autism spectrum disorders, even our school administrators, teachers, and districts, it is vital that we as a special needs community take this opportunity to educate. My friend Jill, over at Yeah. Good Times. has written a beautiful letter to her children's school board, district Superintendant, and school board which eloquently explains the facts about Asperger's and developmental disability, and points out the flaws in the rumors that autism spectrum disorders are mental illness.
Please take the time to visit Jill's site and read her letter. And, if you are inclined to do so, feel free to copy her letter and send it to YOUR school administrators (making sure to insert your own name where hers is! ;) ) with her blessing.
Today is back to school day. Not only for our children, because the weekend is over.. but for the world. The time has come to teach and learn. Who better to teach than those of us that know it so well, who have researched and lived developmental disability right along with our children? Take the opportunity that is handed to us, and help educate those that don't know, but fear it all the same.
My love and prayers to all the families in Newtown, Connecticut. We will remember your children, whether small or grown. And we will never, ever, ever forget December 14,2012. Ever. May you feel love and support now and always, and come to know peace and healing. Our hearts are with you.